With The Submarines

Don Marquis

Above, the baffled twilight fails; beneath, the
    blind snakes creep;
Beside us glides the charnel shark, our pilot
    through the deep;
And, lurking where low headlands shield from
    cruising scout and spy,
We bide the signal through the gloom that bids
    us slay or die.

All watchful, mute, the crouching guns that guard
    the strait sea lanes—
Watchful and hawklike, plumed with hate, the
    desperate aeroplanes—
And still as death and swift as fate, above the
    darkling coasts,
The spying Wireless sows the night with troops
    of stealthy ghosts,

While hushed through all her huddled streets the
    tide-walled city waits
The drumming thunders that announce brute
    battle at her gates.

Southward a hundred windy leagues, through
    storms that blind and bar,
Our cheated cruisers search the waves, our cap-
    tains seek the war;
But here the port of peril is; the foeman’s dread-
    noughts ride
Sullen and black against the moon, upon a sullen
And only we to launch ourselves against their
    stark advance—
To guide uncertain lightnings through these treach-
    erous seas of chance!

.     .     .     .     .     .

And now a wheeling searchlight paints a signal on
    the night;
And now the bellowing guns are loud with the
    wild lust of fight.

.     .     .     .     .     .

And now, her flanks of steel apulse with all the
    power of hell,
Forth from the darkness leaps in pride a hateful
The flagship of their Admiral—and now God help
    and save!—
We challenge Death at Death’s own game; we
    sink beneath the wave!

.     .     .     .     .     .

Ah, steady now—and one good blow—one straight
    stab through the gloom—
Ah, good!—the thrust went home!—she founders—
    flounders to her doom!—
Full speed ahead!—those damned quick-firing guns
    —but let them bark—
What’s that—the dynamos?—they’ve got us, men!
    —Christ! in the dark!

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